My Chemical Romance Rocks SF Today (Sunday)

Categories: Music

Here’s a taste of the "Teenagers" you will encounter at Shoreline today.

Is My Chemical Romance the new Nirvana? Read on.

BY MELISSA MAERZ
Is My Chemical Romance this generation’s Nirvana? Don’t laugh, but that issue once warranted hot debate on the music-insider message board “I Love Music,” where one jokester summed up both bands’ mottos as “I think, therefore I angst.”

Now, with MCR’s new video “Teenagers,” the band isn’t doing much to discourage the comparison. Its killer stomp-the-bleachers anthem -- complete with operatic guitars, punk pep-rally chanting, and a whole lotta cowbell -- winkingly trots out a familiar image: the high school gym, teeming with alternative cheerleaders and a student council mosh pit. All you need is a janitor to mop up after them, and the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” come roaring back in your head.

And yet, young MCR fans, this isn’t your older brother’s teenage wasteland. Now that punk cheerleaders -- an oxymoron when Nirvana’s breakthrough video first debuted -- regularly pop up at Superbowl pre-game shows and Roller Derby rallies, the popular-kid misfit has become a cliché. Earlier this year, Hot Topic, the ´90s’ alternative mall-rat headquarters, stopped selling goth, grunge, and metal-oriented teen fashion because, their annual report claimed, “the iPod has reduced the number of ‘one genre’ fans.” Outsiders ain't what they used to be. Mass culture's just a culmination of fringe cultures, and for a band that blends ’70s glam’s flamboyance, goth’s zombie-hipster makeup, and grunge’s disaffected malaise to chart on Billboard’s Hot 100, that might be the key to success.

With his ghoulish style and theater-major affectations, MCR singer Gerard Way may be more Frank-N-Furter than Kurt Cobain, but in the “Teenagers” video, he’s still the product of what the ´90s wrought. “You’re never gonna fit in much, kid,” Way taunts the crowd, and his sing-song voice suggests the irony’s not lost on him. If grunge brought alternative culture mainstream, Way is living the teenage dream. By the end of the video, playfully mobbed by classmates and fans, he’s further proof that the high school misfit is now the status quo Voice of a Generation -- for goths, meatheads, cheerleaders, stoners, and all.

My Chemical Romance performs as part of the Projeckt Revolution tour on Sunday, July 29, at the Shoreline. The show starts at 12:45 p.m. Admission is $24.50-$70; visit www.livenation.com for more info.

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